Passage (poem about adoption)

Passage

Your mother loved you dearly
But that love was not enough,
With tears in her eyes and guilt in her heart
She had to give you up.

You started life, far from certain
Moving from home to home,
A search began to fill your void
A family to call your own

Days dragged on, and into weeks
And months turned into years,
Old enough to look for mommy and dad
But the horizons never near

Your life on hold, bonds incomplete,
Growing older with every day,
Hoping and dreaming every night
For a permanent home to stay

A call is made, “a child we have”
Of course we want this child!
More than ready to fill a heart felt void
Knowing your trust will be meek and mild

You quietly question another move
Is my search over or still continuing?
You keep to yourself, hiding here and there
As the question begins diminishing

You eye all the other children
Their love helps you on your way,
You see, once they were where you are
At the start of their first new day

You give us your trust, you warmed to our love
We’re finally now mommy and dad,
Our heart now filled, the bonds now complete
Your tears for a family, now glad

Your mother sent you on a journey
God’s destination she did not know,
So little, you made your passage
From her heart into our own.

-Ron Schutt

It is hard to find a lot of poems about adoption out of foster care.  I came across this one and thought I would share it.  Have a wonderful day!

 

Legacy of An Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first gave you life, the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you the seed for talent, the other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first smile, the other dried your tears.

One gave you up, it was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child and was led straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears
the age old question through the years,

“Heredity or environment, which am I the product of?”

Neither my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of Love.

-Author Unknown

This is another poem about adoption that I love.  My heart leaps just a bit and I got a little emotional when I read the last line.  My children’s birth mothers did not choose adoption, as is the case of most foster care adoptions.  However, I would never deny the importance of their roles in who my children are.  

I’m so thankful to be called mom.  I cannot imagine giving birth to a child and not being in the child’s life.  I have such respect and empathy for the birth mothers who have chosen adoption for their babies.  I also feel great empathy and compassion for the birth mothers who did not choose adoption and whose children were taken away by protective services.  I think that birth mothers who choose life and make a plan for adoption are often the unsung heroes.  So, thank you birth mothers.  Thank you for choosing life and for the selfless sacrifice you made when you chose adoption.

Adoptive Parenting & the Unknowns

This past weekend I was taken by surprise when an X-ray completed on my son that was intended to evaluate whether or not he had pneumonia revealed something else.  The doctor walked into the room and asked if I have ever had any concerns about his heart.  As the conversation developed, I began to realize that I know virtually nothing about his genetic medical history.  I stood there and felt a little panicked at all that I do not know.

These four words, “I DO NOT KNOW”, are words that I have had to say to medical professionals about both of my children through the years.  I get angry when I do not have the answers or clues needed that could assist in seeking results or directing the path that doctors need to take.  I know though that even parents who are raising biological children do not always have the answers needed when discussing medical history, and that medical conditions are not always related to genetic history.  I mean, look what happened at me!

As an adoptive parent though, I feel very helpless when standing in front of medical staff with barely anything to add.  My thoughts go from frustration, to anger, and then to guilt.  I feel frustrated for not being able to help.  I get angry at realizing that poor choices by my children’s birth mothers could lead to health problems for my children.  I also get angry knowing that it is almost nearly impossible for people who have been adopted to find out their medical histories.  Often, they have to get attorneys to subpoena the courts to open the record.  It is not an easy process at all.  I understand protecting the birth family’s and adoptive family’s right to privacy, but when it comes to medical history, adoptees should have the right to know as much as they can.

The guilt sometimes comes from not finding out as much as possible before the adoptions were finalized, or for not pushing for answers from case workers and biological family members if possible.  I do not blame the case workers at all (I was once one and my husband is currently one).  I just wish getting the information would have been easier.  I know that I asked as many questions as possible about their genetic medical history.  It seems though that each time something comes up and I do not have an answer for, I feel guilty.  Looking back, I wish I would have listed out every disease process and used a yes/no system to ask questions about genetic history.

I was talking to another adoptive parent the other day about these issues and we both agreed that it is different from raising biological children.  Let me clearly state though that It is NOT different in the love, effort, and energy poured out when parenting.  It is NOT different in the genuine sense of knowing our children are “ours”.  But, there are different issues that adoptive parents face.  My friend who adopted privately has had to face similar issues.  Her son is now an adolescent so she was able to share with me how she has faced some of the unknowns and questions her son has had through the years.

There are many unknowns in adoptive parenting.  I do not know if any other significant medical problems will develop as they age.  I do not know what my children will think or feel about being adopted as they grow up.  I do not know my children’s biological grandparents’ names, histories, or any other valuable information that could be passed on.  I have very, very few pictures of their birth mothers and fathers.  I do not know if they will look for their birth parents (although I am open to assisting them with this).  I do not know if they will get angry for not having more open contact through the years.

My son is okay.  It was just an incidental finding related to respiratory issues.  His heart is healthy and he is going to be fine.  I can relax now.  I can stop stewing over the conversations about health issues that I should have had with his case worker and birth mother.  I have come to realize that adoptive parenting is an incredibly complex; yet, amazing experience.  I am also realizing that I must walk in faith when it comes to navigating the unknowns.

If you are an adoptive parent (especially out of foster care), do you have any nuggets of wisdom you have gleaned through the years that you would like to share?  If so, please comment as I am always seeking out ways to understand the complexity of adoptive parenting.

Around the Fire

Last night we had the privilege of spending the evening around a bonfire in the country.  Hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the sound of crackling wood, a gorgeous full moon, the chatter of folks, and gleeful screams of children playing in the field next to us made up our evening.  Fires are so good at catching one’s eye.  I sat and stared for a long time at the majestic wisps of flames as they flickered their way up to the heavens.

With the scent of fall in the air and the comfort of a blanket over me, my thoughts immediately went to the reason why we were all out there under the stars.  Out of the eighteen or so children present last night, around thirteen of them were adopted out of foster care.  Let me say that again….13 out of 18 or so children present last night were adopted out of foster care.  Most of the children were siblings of some sort, but not all.  A handful of families adopted the siblings.  Honestly, it was kind of nice to be at an event where my children were not a minority.  Usually when we go to “get-togethers”, or anywhere in general, my kids are typically the only ones adopted; especially out of protective services.

There is something comforting when being around fellow parents who have experienced the journey of being a foster parent and adopting.  We are able to swap stories of our experiences and compare notes.  We can relate to the challenges sometimes experienced when raising children with histories of abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure, or separation from family of origin.  We can also talk about resources that may come in handy if future issues should arise.

Last night, I took a moment to look out in the field at the children playing.  The image of glow sticks in hands, glow-in-the-dark balloons bouncing up and down, and the sounds of laughing children running freely through the field filled my mind and my heart with gratefulness.  I thought about how their young lives were interrupted by the ways of the world and the poor choices of their  birth parents.  I thought about the losses every single one of them has endured already in life.  I thought about the adults around the fire who took them in.  I thought about the opportunities they have because of permanency in their lives.

I thought about how they get to have a childhood free of abuse.  I also thought about how lucky we are to be a part of this.  Adoption out of foster care is not a second best choice.  It is not reserved for only those who cannot afford private adoption.  It is not just for couples who are unable to have biological children.  It is a blessing to parent a child whose beginning to life automatically put him or her in the category of the “least of these”.

It is a blessing to meet other adults whose lives have also been impacted by the decision to become foster parents.  We are all connected in some way to each other by the children playing in the field.  We are all a part of something bigger, something more eternal, and something better planned for these children.

As I watched the fire burn and looked around, thankfulness filled my heart.  We were all brought together by the one true God who brings light into dark places, hope into hopeless situations, and love into the lives of all of us.

Any questions?

After my son’s adoption in 2008, a neighbor asked me, “Are you concerned that you didn’t connect with him since you did not carry him?”  I was only briefly stunned by her question.  I knew that I needed to think quick and give her an answer.  After all, she asked me in front of a group of neighbors during our block party and I did not want to be standing in the middle of an awkward moment of silence.  I replied, “No, not at all.  Loving him is very natural…as if I gave birth to him.”  All she responded with was “Oh”.

When I told my husband about the conversation, he said, “She didn’t carry or birth her husband.  Does that mean she is not bonded or connected to him?”  (Good point honey, good point)  He has always had a great way of simplifying things.

Her question has stuck in my mind through the years.  I really cannot blame her for her lack of knowledge about adoption.  After all, she had only given birth to children.  She had never experienced the incredible richness of becoming a mom through adoption.  I am still not sure what she meant by the word connect.  Perhaps she meant to say “Are you worried that you have not bonded with him because you did not give birth to him?”.

Looking back on our short conversation, I wished I would have said to her the things that have been revealed since becoming a mother through adoption.  I have realized that my expecting was not in months, but years.  My labor was not in hours, but years as well.  I did not carry my children in my body.  I carried them in my imagination, my prayers, my hopes, and my dreams.

I carried them in that quiet space where it is just myself and the Lord.

Foster and adoptive families usually get asked all kinds of random and often insensitive questions.  When we were going through the licensing process to become foster parents, someone said to me, “You are not going to take one of those meth babies, are you?”  Was that a question or a directive?  I was not quite sure.  The truth is that many newborns who come into protective services in the state I live in have been exposed to prenatal drug and/or alcohol usage.  To call them “meth babies” though felt very cold and calloused to me.

Here are some more questions that I have been asked:

  • Are your kids “real” siblings?
  • Are you scared that their “real” parents are going to take them back?
  • Are you sure it is okay to tell them that they are adopted?
  • Do you plan on having your “own” child in the future?
  • Do you know their “real” parents?

I answered the first two questions with a “no” and a “yes”.  No, I am not scared their “real” parents are going to take them back….that would be considered kidnapping.  Taking them back is not an option.  Adoption is legally binding and permanent.

Yes, I am absolutely sure it is okay to tell them they are adopted.  It is a travesty for children to not know their history and to be lied to.  It damages every ounce of trust and relationship built through the years.  It also gives glimpses of the thought that adoption is something that should be kept secret, as if it is shameful.

As far as the kids are concerned, they are real siblings.  Trust me, if you spend any amount of time in our home, you will notice that they fight like cats and dogs, yet are inseparable.  There is nothing fake about their relationship as a brother and a sister.

The last two questions can be answered by this fabulous quote I found.

“Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial.  Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.  Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else’s child.  Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all your own.”  -Rita Laws, PhD

 Any questions?